Alvarez finds purpose helping MBEs

Alex Alvarez Jr. is global supply manager, global supplier diversity in corporate procurement, Apple Inc. He has 20 years of experience as a change agent, primarily in supply chain, procurement and supplier diversity.

He co-led Apple to become the first Silicon Valley-based company to be accepted as a Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc. member in 2016. BDR celebrates companies that spend $1 billion a year with diverse-owned companies. He has also helped the technology giant earn several top industry awards including Corporation of the Year for Innovation from the National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. in 2017.

As president and CEO of the Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council and executive director of the Alabama Minority Business Opportunity Center, he brought these organizations national distinction. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about your background?

A: As I reflect on my life, I recognize that I have been very fortunate to have a strong grandmother and mother, to be educated by some of the top institutions and to work for top corporations.

I was born prematurely to a single mother and nearly died. I fight every day of my life to overcome the stigma that comes from being born with a disability and growing up in an impoverished community. My drive to survive, persevere and succeed came natural to me, which is why my grandma nicknamed me “Vivo” meaning “to be alive” in Spanish.

My single mother raised me in a farming community with high crime. Our city was characterized as the poorest place in America. My mother ensured I never viewed my experience as a weakness. She tried to shift my narrative and noted that I could accomplish anything if I put in the work and had faith.

Q: What attracted you to the supply-chain arena?

A: Supply chain, strategic sourcing, diversity and equity and inclusion provide me with purpose. I am inspired by the profession’s ability to transform underserved communities and create multigenerational wealth.

Supply-chain diversity is the intersection of supply-chain inclusion and economic prosperity for diverse businesses. How we proceed impacts their economic trajectory and generational wealth for underserved communities for many places and individuals. Like a traffic controller, I take great pride in providing access to diverse businesses, enabling billions in spend over my 20-year career.

They say in life you can get in the game or be a spectator. As it relates to entrepreneurship, I wanted to get in the game. I work to develop the minority businesses, enabling a winning formula for both of us. I’m also given the opportunity to be a referee to ensure the game is being played fair, and everyone is provided equitable access and evaluated against our needs.

Q: What are you most proud of about Apple’s supply-chain diversity program?

A: Leadership by example. Technology is a tool that helps society overcome its limitations. What the car did for transportation and the iPhone did for communication, supply-chain diversity is doing for economic parity. Apple does the same in advancing and improving accessibility in every way and every product, ultimately enhancing the world we live in.

Apple made it possible for me to serve as president of tech:SCALE — formerly Technology Industry Group or TIG — for five years. During my tenure and despite the criticism that the technology sector was facing, our technology industry group stayed committed to changing this narrative and contributing to advancing supply-chain diversity in the technology industry. Our work produced over $40 billion in collective spend with diverse suppliers and a 600% membership growth. Our industry became recognized as the leader in innovation, economic impact and thought leadership within supply-chain diversity. This [recognition] allowed me to influence and drive transformative change within my company, our technology industry and the economic landscape for positive impact overall.

Q: What advice do you have for minority business enterprises interested in doing business with Apple?

A: Supply-chain diversity and minority businesses can be vastly underrated. Having overcome challenging odds to get a seat at the table, I am familiar with being underestimated and experienced in overcoming long odds. My advice to MBEs is to keep innovating, adapting and persevering. In life and in business, you will experience a roller coaster of successes and failures. It’s difficult. The key point is to stay committed and invest in yourself. “Pasos cortos, vision larga” means “short steps, long vision.” I often remind MBEs that succeeding in business is like running a marathon, not a sprint.

Q: What’s your vision for the future of minority business development and supply-chain diversity?

A: I proudly stand on the shoulders of many individuals and companies who have driven supply-chain diversity for over 60 years. In the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, supply-chain diversity was created to help address the frightening economic disparity in contracts to underserved communities such as African American- and Hispanic American-owned businesses. 

Since then, the definition expanded to include additional underserved communities such as Asian Pacific and Asian Indian Americans; Native Americans; women; veterans; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning-plus people; and people with disabilities in the United States. Proudly, we played a key role in the vision being expanded globally in many countries to include ethnic minorities, women and the underrepresented, to name a few. My dream in supply-chain diversity is that [supplier diversity programs] cease to exist – not because it’s not important, but because we will have achieved economic parity. We will live diversity, equity and inclusion.


To learn more about Apple’s supplier diversity program, visit


Alex Alvarez Jr., global supply manager, global supplier diversity in corporate procurement, Apple Inc.


Alex Alvarez Jr Apple First Silicon Valley Based Company Southern Region Minority Supplier Development Council Alabama Minority Business Opportunity Center Apple Inc Global Supply Manager

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